Midsummer in Estonia

As I lay in bed wondering what I’d learned during the day I realized that although it was a fun day there was nothing which I could conceivably twist into something educational. The radio was on however and someone was being interviewed about Estonian culture and the celebrating of the longest day and shortest night of the year. I was saved in the nick of time.

In Estonia apparently, the solstice is a big deal and it’s celebrated by lighting a fire that burns through the night. Everyone is supposed to stay awake all night around this fire otherwise summer will be a drab affair. People are encouraged to jump over the flames to ward off evil spirits and if couples to it together it is believed that the coming summer will be a fertile one. I.e. the woman will be with child fairly shortly afterward. The role of nature is very important and plants and animals are considered magic. If only for a night. Wreaths are worn in the hair.

The summer solstice of course is the night of the 21st to the 22nd of June, but the Estonians celebrate from the 23rd to the 24th. Some say that’s because it is also a celebration of the name day of John the baptist.  It is the name day of all Jans or Janusses so this could be true, but it is just as likely that it celebrates Janus who of course has two faces. In this case signifying night and day I presume.

Home made food is consumed as is home made beer. Songs are sung and a good time is had by all.

Normally I would include a link to the program I was listening to, but its not available, yet.

related post: A little bit of Sri Lankan culture


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